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Ten Days That 
Shook Iraq 


inside information from an uprising 


[Plus: The Class Struggle in Iraq - an interview with a veteran] 



Cover Photo: 

Zakhu, Iraq, 27 April 1991 - a refugee camp for the thousands 
of Kurds who left their homes to flee from Iraqi government 
forces following the fighting that broke out in Iraq after 
Operation Desert Storm. 


both documents were written in 1991 
in the wake of the first Gulf War 

firestarter press. May 2003 
One Thousand Emotions, March 2006 


Back Cover Photo: 

"Death Mile" on the highway from Kuwait City to Iraq after 
massacre by U.S. forces, 25 February 1991. U.S. war planes 
and helicopters circled over the road for hours, destroying 
every vehicle, including ambulances, and killing thousands of 
fleeing Iraqis. (Photo: E. Adams/Corbis Sygma) 


For more copies of this 
and other materiai, write to: 

One Thousand Emotions 
PO Box 63333 
St. Louis, MO 63163 
USA 



Ten Days That Shook Iraq 


The following text was published as a four page leaflet in 1991 and was one 
of the first sources of information in English about the uprisings in Southern 
Iraq and Kurdistan. It was later published in the magazine 'Wildcat.' 


The Gulf war was not ended by the military victory of 
America and the Allies. It was ended by the mass desertion of 
thousands of Iraqi soldiers. So overwhelming was the refusal to 
fight for the Iraqi state on the part of its conscripted army that, 
contrary to all predictions, not one Allied soldier was killed by 
hostile fire in the final ground offensive to recapture Kuwait. 
Indeed the sheer scale of this mutiny is perhaps unprecedented 
in modern military history. 

But these mutinous troops did not simply flee back to Iraq. 
On their return many of them turned their guns against the Iraqi 
state, sparking a simultaneous uprising in both Southern Iraq 
and in Kurdistan to the North. Only the central region of Iraq 
surrounding Baghdad remained firmly in the state's hands in 
the weeks following the end of the war. 

From the very start the Western media has grossly 
misrepresented these uprisings. The uprising in the South, 
centred on Basra, was portrayed as a Shia Muslim revolt. 
Whereas the insurrection in the North was reported as an 
exclusively Kurdish Nationalist uprising which demanded little 
more than an autonomous Kurdish region within Iraq. 

The truth is that the uprisings in both the North and South of 
Iraq were proletarian insurrections. 

Basra is one of the most secular areas in the Middle East. 
Almost no one goes to the mosques in Basra. The radical 
traditions in this area are not those of Islamic fundamentalism 
but rather those of Arab Nationalism and Stalinism. The Iraqi 
Communist Party is the only bourgeois party with any significant 
influence in this region. The cities of Basra, Nasriah and Hilah 
have long been known as the region of the Communist Party 
and have a long history of open rebellion against both religion 


3 



and the state. The "Iraqi" working class has always been one of 
the most troublesome in a volatile region. 

In the North, there is little sympathy for the Nationalist 
parties - the KDP and the PUK - and their peshmergas (guerrilla 
movements) due to the repeated failure of their compromises 
with the Iraqi state. This is particularly true in the Sulaimania 
area. The inhabitants of the area have been especially hostile to 
the Nationalists since the Halabja massacre. Following the 
chemical attack by the Iraqi air force against deserters and 
civilians in the city of Halabja in 1988, the peshmergas initially 
prevented people from fleeing and then went on to pillage and 
rape those who survived the massacre. As a result, many 
villagers have long since refused to feed or shelter nationalist 
peshmergas. As in the South, the Communist Party and its 
peshmergas are more popular. 

The uprising in the North was not nationalist. In the early 
stages Ba'athist officials and secret police were executed, 
police files were destroyed and the prisons stormed. People 
were openly hostile to the bourgeois policies of the Kurdish 
Nationalists. In Sulaimania the Nationalist peshmergas were 
excluded from the city and the exiled leader of the Patriotic 
Union of Kurdistan, Jalal Talabani, was prevented from 
returning to his hometown. When the Kurdish Democratic Party 
leader, Massoud Barzani, went to Chamcharnal, near to 
Sulaimania, he was attacked and two of his bodyguards were 
killed. When the Nationalists broadcast the slogan: "Now's the 
time to kill the Ba'athists!" the people of Sulaimania replied with 
the slogan: "Now's the time for the Nationalists to loot 
Porsches!", meaning that the Nationalists were only interested 
in looting. 

A revolutionary group, "Communist Perspective", played a 
major role in the insurrection. In their publication, "Proletariat", 
they advocated the setting up of workers' councils. This 
provoked fear and anger among the Nationalists, as well as the 
Communist Party and its splinter groups. 

Faced with these proletarian uprisings the various bourgeois 
interests in the region had to suspend hostilities and unite to 
suppress them. It is well known that the West, led by the USA, 


But despite everything, nationalism hasn't managed to 
create unbridgeable obstacles. Proof of this is the latest 
uprising. When Iraqis in the south rose up against Saddam 
after the war, their efforts were supported by northerners. 
Arab soldiers in the north, voluntarily gave up their arms to 
the Kurds. 

Q: Finally let us talk about the future of the class struggle in Iraq. 
I think the Americans are still banking on a Romanian 
scenario, i.e. a popular uprising from below followed by a 
preplanned coup d'etat from above to oust Saddam. Do you 
agree? 

A: Yes, probably. But the Iraqi situation is more complicated 
than Romania, and the divisions between Kurds and Arabs, 
Arab and Turks, and Sunni and Shi'ite muslims could easily 
lead to a prolonged civil war situation. And the next regime 
will probably be more religiously orientated. So there are 
differences with Romania. 

The strongest party seems to be the Al-Dawa (Shi'ite) 
which receives backing from Iran. The Radical Ba'ths are not 
very popular and has connections with Syria. The I.C.P 
hasn't got the power it once used to have but mustn't be 
underestimated. Its base, however, seems to be amongst 
the elder generations and not the young. 

As for the Patriotic Union of Kurds (PUK) and the 
Democratic Party of Kurdistan (DPK), they used to have 
about 5000 armed peshmergas before the recent events 
and are not as significant a force as the media makes out. 
The Kurdish towns are being taken not by the political 
parties but the people. Akhvan al-muslimin is the last 
powerful Sunni organisation being supported by both Egypt 
and at times US. 

All in all it must be said that the future of autonomous 
proletarian activity in Iraq is not very bright. 


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again, we have once again started to organise ourselves 
and meet regularly. 

Q: The media here is explicitly giving encouragement to Kurdish 
nationalism. Can you tell us a little about the origins of 
Kurdish nationalism? 

A: In the mid 50's there was no such thing as a Kurdish 
nationalist movement in Iraq. Sometimes at times of crisis, 
capitalism would financially induce a Kurdish feudal 
landlord to organise something, that they would name a 
'nationalist movement'. In order to give these leaders 
credibility, the central government would move 'against' 
them. 

At these times, there was no real Kurdish patriotic 
identity, it had to be artificially fostered. Arabs and Kurds 
viewed their struggle as one. Kurdish nationalist leaders 
who shared power with the central government, broke with 
them once they received support from the west and the 
Shah. But they lacked a popular base and had to escape to 
the mountains. They organised a militia but were defeated 
severely at first because their soldiers were not volunteers. 
Learning from their mistakes, they organised the Peshmerga 
- a guerrilla outfit - and looked for better weapons. They 
began to engage in sectarian murder. For example, they 
would get hold of an Arab driver and execute him for being 
an Arab. 

Q: Sounds a bit like Irish nationalists over here? 

A: Yes, very similar, innocent Arab workers and students were 
murdered, and the government in turn would make capital 
out of this by publicising 'Kurdish' atrocities, whipping up 
anti-Kurdish sentiments. Iraqi generals would deliberately 
send young, inexperienced soldiers into Kurdish areas, 
knowing full well they were cannon-fodder for the 
peshmerga. The next day, a Kurdish village would be 
destroyed by the regular Iraqi army in revenge. All these 
tactics helped to divide the proletariat. 


have long backed Saddam Hussein's brutal regime. They 
supported him in the war against Iran. 

In supporting Saddam the Western ruling class also 
recognised that the Ba'athist Party, as a mass based fascist 
party, was the only force in Iraq capable and ruthless enough to 
repress the oil producing proletariat. 

However, Saddam's ultimate strategy for maintaining social 
peace in Iraq was for a permanent war drive and militarisation 
of society. But such a strategy could only lead to further 
economic ruin and the intensification of class antagonisms. In 
the Spring of 1990 this contradiction was becoming blatant. 
The Iraqi economy was shattered after eight years of war with 
Iran. Oil production, the main source of hard currency, was 
restricted while oil prices were relatively low. The only options 
for redeeming wartime promises of prosperity in peace were a 
rise in the price of oil or more war. The former choice was 
blocked by Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Saddam's bold leap to 
resolve this impasse was to annex Kuwait and its rich oil fields. 

This gave America the opportunity to reassert its political 
hegemony, not only in the Middle East, but also in the world as 
a whole. With the hope of exorcising the spectre of Vietnam, the 
Bush regime prepared for all-out war. The Bush administration 
hoped for a quick and decisive victory that would evict Iraq from 
Kuwait but at the same time leave the Iraqi regime intact. 
However, to mobilise the home front for war. Bush had to 
equate Saddam with Hitler and so became increasingly 
committed publicly to toppling the Iraqi leader. 

With this commitment the American government now sought 
to impose such a military defeat on the Ba'athist Party would be 
obliged to replace Saddam with someone else. Indeed the Bush 
regime openly invited the ruling circles in Iraq to replace 
Saddam Hussein with the approach of the ground war in March. 
However, the mass desertion of Iraqi conscripts and the 
subsequent uprisings in Iraq robbed the American government 
of such a convenient victory. Instead they faced the prospect of 
the uprising turning into a full scale proletarian revolution, with 
all the dire consequences this would have for the accumulation 
of capital in the Middle East. 


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5 



The last thing the American government wanted was to be 
drawn into a prolonged military occupation of Iraq in order to 
suppress the uprisings. It was far more efficient to back the 
existing state. But there was no time to insist on the removal of 
Saddam Hussein. They could ill afford the disruption this would 
cause. Hence, almost overnight, Bush's hostility to the butcher 
of Baghdad evaporated. The two rival butchers went into 
partnership. 

Their first task was to crush the uprising in the South which 
was being swelled by the huge columns of deserters streaming 
north from Kuwait. Even though these fleeing Iraqi conscripts 
posed no military threat to Allied troops, or to the objective of 
"liberating" Kuwait, the war was prolonged long enough for 
them to be carpet bombed on the road to Basra by the RAF and 
the USAF. This cold blooded massacre served no other purpose 
than to preserve the Iraqi state from mutinous armed deserters. 

Following this massacre the Allied ground forces, having 
swept through southern Iraq to encircle Kuwait, stopped short 
of Basra and gave free rein to the Republican Guards - the elite 
troops loyal to the Iraqi regime - to crush the insurgents. All 
proposals to inflict a decisive defeat on the Republican Guards 
or to proceed towards Baghdad to topple Saddam were quickly 
forgotten. In the ceasefire negotiations the Allied forces insisted 
on the grounding of all fixed wing aircraft but the use of 
helicopters vital for counter-insurgency was permitted for 
"administrative purposes". This "concession" proved important 
once the uprising in the South was put down and the Iraqi 
state's attention turned to the advancing insurrection in the 
North. 

Whereas the uprising in the Basra region was crushed 
almost as it began, the Northern uprising had more time to 
develop. It began in Raniah and spread to Sulaimania and Kut 
and at its height threatened to spread beyond Kurdistan to the 
capital. The original aim of the uprising was expressed in the 
slogan: "We will celebrate our New Year with the Arabs in 
Baghdad!" The defeat of this rebellion owed as much to the 
Kurdish Nationalists as to the Western powers and the Iraqi 
state. 


to anarchist ideas by comrades from Baghdad. There was a 
Lebanese Journal, called Darasat al-arabie, which was 
critical of both Leninism and Marxism. We didn't always 
agree with them, but they influenced us greatly. 

Q: Did these revolutionaries develop their own independent 
critique of Leninism or did they borrow it from the west? 

A: Unfortunately us 'eastern' communists have always been 
awe-struck by our 'western' comrades, and looked in their 
direction for divine inspiration as muslims look at Kiblah 
(Direction towards which muslims turn in praying). 
Consequently we have always relied on them for an 
understanding of capitalism. 

But gradually we came to realise that the previous 
parties we were involved in were like cages for our minds, 
stifling our independence. Consequently we rejected 'Third 
Worldism' and 'Socialist' revolution and understood that the 
only worthwhile path is a Communist revolution (the 
abolition of wage slavery, money and the state). We began 
criticising Lenin here and there but a complete critique of 
Leninism came later. 

At this stage we decided to form a new organisation 
called Fasileh (later renamed Kar). Our programme was very 
eclectic. It contained good and also bad things. With the 
help of some Anarchists we started publishing a magazine 
in Arabic and Kurdish The level of class struggle inside Iraq 
was very low, but the regime's repression was fierce. The 
state tried very hard to find us but we were careful. 
Mokhaberat (security service) would offer reward for our 
arrest and finally they raided us. 

I got away but a comrade was later arrested, and most 
probably executed. We decided to send some comrades 
abroad to learn from the experience of the world proletariat 
and establish internationalist contacts. But when we got 
here, we found the level of class struggle was even lower! 
This coupled with the usual refugee problems led to petty 
personal quibblings which made us forget the purpose of 
coming abroad. But now that things are beginning to pick up 


6 


15 



remained very popular. He is now Ba'thist ambassador to 
France! 

Q: Unlike neighbouring Iran where guerrilla activity by leftists 
never threatened the regime. 

A: Yes, in Iraq armed struggle was far more widespread. 
Assassinations of individual capitalists led to wide-scale 
armed confrontations, and it must be said these actions 
were extremely popular amongst the population. But the 
truth is that our security measures were inadequate. We 
temporarily controlled the streets because we had guns but 
when the '68 coup d'etat succeeded, we became very 
exposed. Even our leaders made horrendous mistakes, and 
a lot of comrades were arrested and executed. 

I don't want to give the impression that the regime only 
used repression in dealing with the class struggle. No, they 
used the usual carrot and stick tactics and it worked. 
Between 1968 and 1974 the state became far more 
powerful. Again in 1972 the I.C.P. entered into a pact with 
Ba'ths. It is incredible how completely degenerate these 
Stalinists are. In 1975 the Algiers Agreement between 
Saddam and the Shah, meant that both leaders could turn 
their attention towards their internal problems. The Kurdish 
uprising collapsed very fast and Saddam became even more 
powerful. 

Q: Can you now talk about your own break first from Stalinism 
and then from Leninism in general? 

A: We knew some comrades in Baghdad, Basra and Kurdistan 
who were also dissatisfied with the prevalent ideologies. At 
that time, we thought armed guerrilla struggle was the be all 
and end all of the revolution, but gradually and under the 
influence of the Iranian revolution we became very critical of 
guerrilla activity. 

I made two visits to Iran during the revolution and 
brought back new ideas. We became acquainted with 
Trotsky's critique of Stalin and later on we were introduced 


Like all nationalist movements the Kurdish Nationalists 
defend the interests of the propertied classes against the 
working class. Most Kurdish Nationalist leaders come from very 
rich families. For example, Talabani comes from a dynasty 
originally set up by the British and his parents own luxury hotels 
in England. The KDP was set up by rich exiles driven out of 
Kurdistan by the mass working class uprisings of 1958 when 
hundreds of landowners and capitalist were strung up. As a 
result of these disturbing events a meeting of exiled bourgeois 
in Razaeia, Iran, organised nationalist death squads to kill class 
struggle militants in Iraqi Kurdistan. Later they carried out racist 
murders of Arabs. During the Iraq-lran war very few deserters 
joined the nationalists and the PUK received an amnesty from 
the Iraqi state in return for repressing deserters. 

These Kurdish Nationalists, like the international 
bourgeoisie, recognised the importance of a strong Iraqi state in 
order to maintain capital accumulation against a militant 
working class. So much so, in fact, that they merely demanded 
that Iraqi Kurdistan be granted the status of an autonomous 
region within a united Iraq. 

In the uprising they did their best to defend the Iraqi state. 
They actively intervened to prevent the destruction of police 
files and state property, including military bases. The 
Nationalists stopped Arab deserters from Joining the "Kurdish" 
uprising, disarmed them, and sent them back to Baghdad to be 
arrested. They did all they could to prevent the uprising from 
spreading beyond the "borders" of Kurdistan which was its only 
hope of success. When the Iraqi state began to turn its 
attention to the uprising in Kurdistan the Kurdish Nationalists' 
radio broadcasts did not encourage or co-ordinate resistance 
but instead exaggerated the threat posed by the demoralised 
Iraqi troops still loyal to the government and advised people to 
flee to the mountains. Which they eventually did. None of this is 
any surprise if we examine their history. 

Although, as we have seen, there was much hostility 
towards the Kurdish Nationalists, they were able to gain control 
and bring to a halt the insurrection in Kurdistan because of 
their organisation and greater material resources. Having been 
long backed by the West - the KDP by the USA and the PUK by 


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7 



Britain - it was the Kurdish Nationalist parties that were able to 
control the supply of food and information. This was vital, since 
after years of deprivation, exacerbated by the war, the search 
for food was an overriding concern. Many individuals were 
mainly content with looting food, rather than with maintaining 
revolutionary organisation and the development of the 
insurrection. This weakness allowed the Nationalist 
organisations to step in with their ample supplies of food and 
well established radio stations. 

The War in the Gulf was brought to an end by the refusal of 
the Iraqi working class to fight and by the subsequent uprisings 
in Iraq. But such proletarian actions were crushed by the 
combined efforts of the various international and national 
bourgeois forces. Once again, nationalism has served as the 
stumbling block for proletarian insurrection. While it is 
important to stress that Middle East politics is not dominated by 
Islamic fundamentalism and Arab Nationalism, as it is usually 
portrayed in the bourgeois press, but rests on class conflict, it 
must be said that the immediate prospects for the development 
of working class struggle in Iraq are now bleak. 

The war not only resulted in the defeat of the Iraqi working 
class but also revealed the state of defeat of the working class 
in the USA, and, to a lesser degree, Europe. The western anti- 
war movement never developed into a mass working class 
opposition to the war. It remained dominated by a pacifist 
orientation that "opposed" the war in terms of an alternative 
national interest: "Peace is Patriotic". While it expressed 
abhorrence of the Allies' holocaust it opposed doing anything to 
stop it that might bring it into confrontation with the state. 
Instead it concentrated on futile symbolic protest that simply 
fostered the sense of helplessness in the face of the state's war 
machine. 

Following the defeat of the insurrection, the Western 
media's misrepresentation continued. The proletariat was 
represented as helpless victims, ripe for patronizing by the 
charities, grateful for the spectacles of pop stars flogging the 
Live Aid horse once more. For those that remembered the 
uprising a "Let It Be... Kurdistan" t-shirt was the obvious answer. 
Whilst the uprising was defeated we cannot allow its aims and 


Q: Why was there so much support for the I.C.P. and Kurdish 
nationalists despite their reactionary policies? 

A: That is a difficult question. The people were not happy with 
either group and especially felt let down by the I.C.P. , but 
there was no real revolutionary alternative so people tended 
to give the I.C.P. the benefit of the doubt and apologise for 
their 'shortcomings'. They would say naively: "The Iraqi 
Communist Party is young and is bound to make mistakes, 
but soon they would mature like their Russian and Chinese 
counterparts" (!!) I suppose there just wasn't the necessary 
consciousness to see these parties for what they are. 

In 1963 Qasim was overthrown by the Ba'thists and a 
period of intense violence resulted in the death of 
thousands of activists. The Ba'ths were supplied a list of 
known 'trouble makers' probably by the CIA. During Qasim's 
last days the people demanded weapons from him for 
protection against the National Guards, but he refused to 
arm them. Even then the military were so unpopular that 
they had to trick the people in order to get into the cities. 
They put photographs of Qasim at the front of their tanks, 
the people thought they intended to defend them from the 
Ba'thists, so they were not opposed, until it was too late. 

Q: The Ba'ths first experiment in dictatorship was unsuccessful 
but they got into power again in 1968. Can you tell us about 
Saddam Flussein's personal path towards power? 

A: Saddam was a cut throat petty gangster, which is probably 
why no one took him too seriously at first. Flis role in the 
attempted assassination of Qasim was exaggerated later. 
Gradually he made himself a power base with the help of his 
Takriti tube and important landlords. 

During the 60s there was a critical re-assessment of the 
I.C.P. policies of United Front with the Iraqi bosses which 
eventually led to a split by 'Aziz al-FlaJJ who was influenced 
by Mao and Che Guevara. Flis guerrilla actions were 
unsuccessful and the group was defeated, but his ideas 


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13 



A: No, I don't agree with this neat and simple text book analysis, 
because even prior to '58 the feudals owned not only the 
rural areas but also a huge portion of the urban areas. 
Hotels, factories, and residential areas belonged to them as 
well as the village. The majority of peasants' were therefore 
proletarians, but with a far worse living standard than their 
urban counterparts. 

Q: In 1958 Qasim and the Free Officers seized power and 
ousted the Monarchy, but some of the gains were 
recuperated. 

A: That's true but the significant thing was the level of class 
struggle. The Monarch and some of his ministers were killed 
by those they called prostitutes. For one year or so no one 
could control the workers. Even the I.C.P. which 
unfortunately had a massive base within the population 
(despite its attacks on the working class) could not control 
the angry proletariat, basically because workers were armed. 
People took food from the shops without paying for them. 
For them money was obsolete. 

Q: I hear that even the Koran was desecrated by the workers. 

A: Yes that's absolutely right. They understood the reactionary 
nature of Islam. Also in Kirkuk about 90 generals, capitalists 
and landlords were taken to the road, had a rope put round 
their necks and dragged around by car until they were killed. 
I.C.P. denounced the actions and tried to distance 
themselves from workers' "excesses". 

But gradually with land reforms, the rising price of oil 
and loans from USSR, the government managed to stabilise 
the situation in the South. Kurdistan was more resistant. 
Armed peasants groups (e.g. in Halabja) were not 
intimidated by either the state or the I.C.P. and took over the 
land that the escapee owners had left (mostly fleeing to 
neighbouring Iran). The absentee landowners would send 
assassins to Iraq and with the connivance of the military kill 
a revolutionary and then flee to the safety of Iran. 


the manner of its defeat to be distorted without challenge" 
hence this text. 

The failure of the working class to recognize its own class 
interests as distinct from the "national interest" and sabotage 
the war effort can only serve to deepen the divisions amongst 
our international class along national lines. Cur rulers will now 
be that much more confident of conducting murderous wars 
unopposed elsewhere in the world, a confidence they have 
lacked since the working class ended the Vietnam war by 
mutinies, desertion, strikes and riots. 


OPPOSITION TO THE WAR IN IRAQ 

There has been a long tradition of class struggle in Iraq, 
particularly since the revolution in 1958. With Saddam's 
strategy of a permanent war drive to maintain social peace this 
struggle has often taken the form of mass desertion from the 
army. During the Iraq-lran war tens of thousands of soldiers 
deserted the army. This swelled the mass working class 
opposition to the war. With the unreliability of the army it 
became increasingly difficult for the Iraqi state to put down 
such working class rebellions. It was for this reason that 
Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against the town of 
Halabja in 1988. 

Following the invasion of Kuwait there were many 
demonstrations against its continued occupation. Even the 
ruling Ba'athist Party was obliged to organize such 
demonstrations under the slogan: "No to Kuwait: We only want 
Saddam and Iraq!" in order to head off anti-war feeling. With the 
dramatic rise in the price of necessities - food prices alone 
rising to twenty times their pre-invasion levels - there was little 
enthusiasm for war. The common attitude throughout Iraq was 
one of defeatism. 

Despite a 200% pay rise desertion from the army became 
common. In the city of Sulaimania alone there were an 
estimated 30,000 deserters. In Kut there were 20,000. So 
overwhelming was the desertion that it became relatively easy 
for soldiers to bribe their way out of the army by giving money to 


12 


9 



their officers. But these working ciass conscripts did not mereiy 
desert, they organised, in Kut thousands marched on the iocai 
poiice station and forced the poiice to concede an end to the 
harassment of deserters. 

Two days after the beginning of the war, anti-war riots broke 
out in Raniah and iater in Suiaimania. 


This leaflet was produced by revolutionaries from Iraq and 
Britain. For more copies or correspondence we can be 
contacted by writing as follows: BM CAT, London WCIN 3XX, UK, 
or PO BOX 3305, Oakland, CA 94609, USA. TO BE A PATRIOT IS 
TO BE AN ASSASSIN! 


The Class Struggle in Iraq - 
An Interview with a Veteran 

The following interview was first published in 'Workers Scud - no patriot can 
catch us!' (London, June 1991), a collection of articles reflecting on the Gulf 
War. 


Q: Can you briefiy teii us about the ciass struggie in Iraq before 
the overthrow of the monarchy in 1958? 

A: In the 1940's and early 1950's the class struggle was mainly 
situated in the rural areas. Peasant uprisings (e.g. in Aali- 
azarchi which lasted about 3 years before being violently 
suppressed) were a constant headache for the semi-feudal 
landowners and the state. 

Urban struggles intensified with the nine-day strike of 
Kirkuk oil workers in 1946 (put down with loss of 10 lives). 
Unemployment and homelessness were rampant. There 
were thousands of sarifas (shacks made of palm branches) 
around and inside Baghdad. 

1956 (Suez Crisis) had a massive impact on Iraq, with 
demonstrations against the Iraqi regime who were seen as 
British stooges. The Palestinian issue also helped 
radicalisation. I still wonder why there wasn't a revolution in 
195611 These internal and external events led to the 
formation of the Free Officers ('nationalist/Nasserist) who 
had links with the Iraqi 'Communist' Party (I.C.P.) but not so 
much with the Ba'ths. 


Q: The way I see it there were two main contradictions in the 
Iraqi society at this time (1946- 58). One between the 
emerging proletarian movement and capitalism and one, 
left over from the past, between capitalism and the feudalist 
landlords. Do you agree?